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Property Purchase and Cambodia’s Education System

Settling down in Cambodia allows you to experience a diverse and fascinating country firsthand. But living there can also be quite a challenge. We offer advice on healthcare, the housing search, and education, as well as an insight into religion and Khmer culture.

Buying Property in Cambodia: Rules and Restrictions

If you decide to stay in the country for a few years or even to settle down here, buying an apartment or a house might seem like the better choice. While renting a place is very easy, buying property comes with some restrictions for foreigners. Since 2010, foreigners can own apartments and condominiums. However, they cannot own land in Cambodia. This rule often extends to the ground floor of a building. Moreover, you are not allowed to own property within a 30 kilometer range from the border.

Most expats avoid that problem by taking out long-term and renewable leases. Local companies, the majority of which are owned by Cambodian citizens, are permitted to buy land as well. Despite these restrictions, about 70% of luxury real estate is said to be owned by expats, mostly Chinese and South Korean citizens. North American and European expats are increasingly purchasing property as well.

Cambodia’s Education System: Underdeveloped and Underfunded?

Since almost half of Cambodia’s population is below the age of 22, it does not come as a surprise that there is a dire need for proper education. Prior to the 20th century, education in Cambodia was organized by the Buddhist monks and monasteries, and was only available to boys. The French were the first to introduce a formal education system in Cambodia, but this suffered considerably during the civil war years, when schools were closed, and thousands of teachers were executed. The Khmer Rouge regime left a whole generation of Cambodian children without any education.

Since the 1980s, there have been many efforts to restore and develop the education system in Cambodia. The quality of education has improved significantly since then. However, in comparison to other countries, it is not up to par yet. The majority of Western countries spend between 5.5% and 6.4% of GDP on education, whereas in Cambodia, this figure was only 1.9% in 2014.

There is a vast shortage of teachers in Cambodia, partly because they are sorely underpaid. Many teachers are forced to work additional jobs to make a living. Some resort to offering private tutoring to those who can afford it, or collecting informal school fees from students, which acts as an education barrier to poor students who cannot afford to pay this. Many of the teachers, particularly in very remote areas, have not even completed secondary education themselves. The lack of government funding also means that resources are seriously lacking, with some smaller remote schools even lacking basic teaching materials such as pens and paper.

An Alternative Education: International Schools

As the school system in Cambodia is still in need of improvement, as well as the fact that the language barrier is a major hurdle for many expat children, parents often choose to send their young ones to an international school instead. Although this may cost you a pretty penny, you can be sure that these schools know how to support expat kids and help them through the culture shock. This is a list of the international schools in Cambodia:

Keep in mind that not every school might be the right choice for your child. Compare their curriculum and what they offer in terms of additional activities. You can also ask if you and your child can visit the school beforehand in order to get a first impression.


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